Feeds

Facebook homes in on world of Google

'Let me be your homepage. In so very many ways'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Facebook is testing a new tool that encourages users to set the social networking site as their browser homepage. It's hardly an unusual move. But at a time when the company is rolling out its own email service and resisting efforts to loosen its grip on user data, the move serves as an apt metaphor for Facebook's sweeping ambition.

It wants to be your home for, well, everything – displacing and even surpassing the web's reigning home: Google.

As noticed by Venturebeat and others, at least some Facebookers now see a "Make Facebook Home" button when they visit the social networking site. "See what's happening with Stephanie, Kim, and the rest of your friends the moment you open your browser," one user was told by Zuckerberg and company.

Asked to comment, Facebook did not immediately respond. But it's only natural that the company would seek to step where Google has so much power.

VentureBeat says it "can’t imagine people seeing [Facebook] as beneficial as Google and it’s [sic] powerful search capabilities." But it's quite easy to imagine. New media pundit Brain Solis just imagined it. And he says he's imagined it for years.

"The future of search is social...We can’t underestimate Facebook search," he says. "Google has long dominated search and the behemoth of a company is showing its age and its weaknesses. Even though Google is experimenting with integrating social into traditional search results, its algorithm is in dire need of a human touch — a human algorithm.

"At the same time, Facebook is slowly but surely improving its search feature. What used to simply display results within the network, now starts to feature results from around the Web where the displayed list is curated by the actions of your friends — as part of the platform. This will only improve and become more substantial in the coming months."

And search is just one tool Facebook hopes to reinvent atop its site. "Most industries are going to be rethought to be social and designed around people," Mark Zuckerberg said last week. "This is the whole evolution we've seen at Facebook." Some of this, he said, will come from third parties — Facebook is also a development platform — and some will come from Facebook itself. Some will happen on Facebook, and in other cases, Facebook will exert its influence on third-party sites, through its Facebook Connect set-up.

What's more, Facebook has introduced its own email service, attempting to move all communication into its walled garden. At the press event announcing the new service, Facebook repeatedly said it was not an email service. But, quite obviously, it is. It offers users their own @facebook.com email addresses, and it will process and store your email messages. "If it looks like a duck and smells like and duck and quacks like a duck..." says Pat Matthews, senior vice president of Rackspace's cloud computing business and the man who oversees the company's email services.

As Solis points out, Facebook is working not only to move people from Google search to Facebook search but from Gmail to Facebook Messaging. He also sees Zuckerberg and company pushing for a switch from Google Voice to Facebook with Skype, from Google Latitude to Facebook Places, from Google Docs to Facebook with Microsoft Office. And clearly they are.

We might add that Google Voice, Google Latitude, and Google Places are relatively new services. With these services, there are relatively few people to switch. Facebook is looking to beat Google at its own game — and then some. "Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal is to create, and dominate, a different kind of Internet," reads this summer's New Yorker profile of Mark Zuckerberg. "[He] was in middle school when Google launched, and he seems to have a deep desire to build something that moves beyond it." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.